All of last week, the news making waves around the world was the size of the stimulus bill that Obama & co are putting out in the US. This is being discussed fervently, for the common and expert belief is that it will be the turning point to the downside the world markets are experiencing. The actual number tag on the stimulus package was filled in the previous Friday when it garnered enough votes through the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Curiously enough, it garnered the very minimum number (60, also referred to as the Filibuster number) to pass through the Senate. The news headlines all of the ensuing weekend overshadowed the $787B, which is the value that the future generations of Americans have to repay for getting out of the current crisis. The news instead was the reactions of the Republicans in the House and the Senate crying out loud over the death of the so-called democracy.
The Democrats, which make up the majority, claim this is the mandate given to them by the people, and given the need to do something urgently they do not see this as the time to debate the details now. The Republicans, in their own rights, claim they were bypassed by virtue of their mere numbers in the vote and weren’t sought after for crucial decision-making. Whilst both sides have logic in their arguments, for a bystander, this is at some level seen as a failure of democracy.
This isn’t restricted to the largest economy of the world. In India, the ruling Congress party has made some decisions of national interest that haven’t gone down well with the opposition parties. For example, the public fiasco that was the nuclear cooperation treaty last year isn’t that long ago. The December saga in Canada where the government would surely have lost the no confidence vote had it been pushed through by the Governor-General isn’t forgotten by the masses. So, what’s changed significantly since the wonderful people that coined Democracy to stand for “for the people, to the people, by the people” made it up.
Nothing; zilch; nada! No matter where you look, the idealisms of the politicians have evolved from leading to governing. We have come to an era of politics where even the most capable person in power becomes the laughing stock if he doesn’t toe the party line, hasn’t ensured appeasement within his/her cabinets, etc. Long gone are the days of charismatic people leading a nation. This is the era of high-power teams, like we are seeing in the new administration.
With that, the democratic ideologies and values are also probably long gone because its now decision-making by just individual party consensus. I see a new definition on the horizon – restrict democracy definitions to abstract things like countries and not to people, politicians, etc.
Democracy is probably going to be seen as outward exhibition of being tolerant as a nation; not pertinent to specific decision-making. As long as we are being clear in our distinction of what democracy stands for in today’s age, we would be doing future generations and ourselves a great service.
Image Credit: Wili Hybrid
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